Essex, UK - Saxon Durrant started Metroretro selling vintage in Camden Market before expanding into industrial and Midcentury furniture sold through shops in Islington. Today, Saxon sells and showcases digitally through his website but still enjoys the thrill of trading the traditional way at shows such as Midcentury Modern, the next edition of which is fast approaching, so I only stole a moment of Saxon's time for a sneak preview of pieces he is bringing to the show at Dulwich College.
How would you describe the style of Metroretro?
Visitors to the warehouse see the true extent of the word eclectic! I've always leaned towards the industrial style, which is a crowded marketplace these days, and love institutional furniture from schools, government offices and the like. The quality of furniture produced for these buildings between the 1930s and 1960s was exceptional. I think this is my favourite area of Midcentury design.
Your pitch at the Salvo Fair distinctly represents your style. It must take a lot of work and prep to create an impressive showcase. Why are fairs and shows like Midcentury Modern important?
My days are mostly spent in the office, warehouse and workshop. Being an online business is great but it is always good to actually meet the people you are selling to, physically seeing the reaction to what you are presenting, and engaging in the process of commerce with them. I think it captures something very ancient and simple, to make or restore something, put it in front of somebody and have them buy it from you. It's also really good seeing the other businesses, what they are offering and catching up with their owners. I'm always interested to find out how people got into this oddball industry. Unfortunately there is rarely time to stand and chat at most shows, which is what makes Salvo so enjoyable.
You provide props and source for special commissions. What was the last project you got particularly excited about?
We supplied tables and bar stools from our handmade Horace range to the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch St which was a nice high profile job (if you'll pardon the pun!).
What is the strangest piece you have been compelled to salvage?
I took a wooden staircase from a factory which, back in the 1940s led up to the night watchman's hut that was something of a love nest according to the factory owner. A great story. In terms of sourcing for a customer though it would have to be 'the largest tyre you can find' and lorry doors that had to be burnt out. This was for a shop window in Bond St for Diesel. A tyre from an earth mover, with a diameter of around six foot and weighing over half a ton was found at a scrap yard in Suffolk where it was being used as a roundabout. The same yard provided some lorry doors which were duly burnt out. Luckily the tyre was collected, it was someone else's problem to get it into the shop window!
What do you think attracts new buyers to vintage and reclaimed furniture?
This is a question I've been asked a lot. There are the usual suspect reasons, the two fingers up to mass production and flat pack furniture, the desire to make a statement and stand out from the crowd. I think most buyers though are simply attracted to craftsmanship and quality. A lot of the hardwoods in vintage and reclaimed furniture just aren't out there anymore and many of the techniques used in construction and design are not cost effective in the newly produced equivalent.
Another is an economic reason. Much new furniture, once off the shop floor is worth nothing. It is used and then discarded, nothing worth salvaging. Vintage and reclaimed furniture is better made, will last longer and will always have a value. In many cases this furniture represents an investment. I think many people see it as a safe haven for their hard-earned money in the same way as bricks and mortar.
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Say hi to Saxon and delight in Metroretro's stand including 1950s PEL chairs with original pea green paint, an Abbess hallstand and Esavian chairs.
Midcentury Modern Shows were founded by Petra Curtis and Lucy Ryder Richardson who saw a gap in the market whilst seeking to furnish their own 1960s homes. Midcentury Modern Shows feel homely, and 14 years later the duo continue to create destinations with a mix of midcentury and modern the way most want it styled in our own bricks and mortar.
The next Midcentury Modern Show is at Dulwich College on Sunday 20th November 2016
Admission 9am Early entry for trade/collectors £15 on the door
10am-4pm £10 on the door
or £9 for advance tickets and 2 for £10 for entry after 2pm
Midcentury Modern Show
Story Type: News